The United States is holding talks with Japan on possibly hosting a second long-range radar system in accordance with U.S. efforts to improve missile defenses in the region, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey this week hosted his Japanese equivalent, Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, for talks that were expected to include whether Tokyo would allow an X-band radar to be fielded in Aomori Prefecture, as previously reported by the Wall Street Journal.
"It's certainly a topic of conversation because missile defense is important to both of our nations," the top U.S. military official said to journalists ahead of his Thursday discussion with Iwasaki.
Dempsey said the two sides had yet to reach a deal on placement of another unit.
Japan is one of the Untied States' top regional allies and already has Aegis antimissile system-equipped warships and land-based Patriot missile interceptors.
While the Obama administration publicly maintains its antimissile efforts in the Asia-Pacific are focused on North Korea, U.S. military analysts are also worried about China's acquisition of weapons such as antiship ballistic missiles that could undermine the United States' ability to project force in the region.
So there is no miscommunication between the two nuclear powers, the Defense Department is looking to deepen engagement with the Chinese People's Liberation Army. As part of that effort, PLA General Staff deputy head Lt. Gen. Cai Yingting this week traveled to several U.S. Army installations as well as the Pentagon for the purpose of assessing "Army capabilities and [to] discuss issues of mutual interest with senior military and defense leaders," according to Pentagon spokeswoman Cathy Wilkinson.
A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman on Friday rebuked the United States for its antimissile activities in the region, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported.
"The antimissile issue should be handled cautiously for the sake of maintaining global strategic stability and enhancing the nations' mutual trust," the unidentified spokesman said.
Beijing is concerned increased deployment of U.S. missile defense systems could undermine its long-range nuclear deterrent.
Regional ally South Korea could become host to new U.S. missile defense systems if the advisements of a recent think-tank report are adopted, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Friday.
An independent analysis on options for the redeployment of U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific suggested fielding Patriot interceptors and Terminal High-Attitude Area Defense systems in South Korea.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies analysis "suggests some force posture investments or enhancements beyond the Defense Department's current plans," an unidentified U.S. defense official told the news agency.
"We will evaluate these possible enhancements for their strategic and operational value, as well as their feasibility and affordability," the Pentagon official said.